Soul Lash (or, Futility)

Sensing impermanence
In my self,
The essence
In the artifice
In the candle-flame
Of the wick
Where my older soul resides,
Well, in that distant place,
My soul lashed out
And slowly flapped
Until lamely she
Gasped one last name,
One last race to breathe,
Akin to a dull fish in shallows
Berating the sands and mudflats,
Berating that constant urge
Of nearby waters to flee
Scenes of my existence
And surge downstream
Away from me,
Though once my scales
Shone like polished heraldry
In folds of
Rainbow-golds
Shimmering
Iridescently.

Neon Dwarf Fish Tank Blues

There’s little nutritional
In minds of a fish,
Yet I too am moved
When you enter the room.
Uncontrollable impulse,
Electrolyte charge,
I ceaselessly swim
With a fast-beating heart.
Observing with eyes
Slight as a pin,
The grace of a human,
We’re closer within.

If I could say something
While beauty floats by,
My mouth would be filled
With chlorine and sighs.
Doomed only to witness
Your unlaced finesse,
As you brew a new coffee
And turn on a switch.
I died on your gravel,
I died on the lawn;
The soul’s multicoloured,
Alone I’m reborn.

The Meaning Of Fish

The meaning of fish
In my angling firth,
My minnow-mind slipped
And did not deserve.

Alluvial sediment,
Disinterment deferred,
Shifting sands seen
On a dark shiftless earth.

Croaker-bait,
Poison hook;
Reeled from a river,
My gauche gawping look.

The meaning of fish
Too late I would learn,
For if not for fish, or
Water-weeds or worms,

I would not exist
From a loch to the burn,
And my scaly-grey heart
Would no longer yearn.

Ode To A Parking Lot, No.2

Grief, do not disparage me,
Do not diminish my yearning
To observe the rites I will learn
In turn, by rote, just as oceans
Spurn the lode in mackerel bones
And whiting dreams and cod,
Fulfilling the needs in fishermen’s
Ganseys and hand-made
Tablecloths their wives
Once ironed, having washed,
On kitchen benches draped across,
Though sometimes a trawler
Or two were lost and the sea,
With blind unfeeling disbelieving
Reasons breeding in their peaks
And troughs, duplicitous sea,
Brought home only grief and loss,
Those I have known and those
I have not, as I cried on my own
At midnight in a parking lot.

An Unrestarted Heart

This road is the road of my death.
I stood motionless in its lucid waters
Where parallel to the ocean

I speared a neon fish.
He admonished me with a fossilising
Shock of ages, waged in his eyes

Which were tiny, glaucous opals.
He once danced and shone
In shoals unknowable as stars.

I am opposed to my own taxidermy.
Standing in the sea leaves me thirsty.
The sky is perforated by jars

For storing a catch which is ours.
Lobsters, swordfish, octopus hearts,
Once the muscle is stopped

It’s almost impossible to restart.
I witnessed it only once, as a boy,
And mythology claimed it for herself.

How far we had journeyed.
I envisioned my existence
With gulls and oppressive seasalt air

Which stripped the elders of teeth
And their ability to remain human,
Their silence as fragile as chalk,

And it corroded all moments
And customs, the colours of
Spring summoned in my lover’s hair,

The jigs of tradition around
A pole each townsmen bore
To the beach with such gravitas

Commensurate only to their souls;
The saline air froze time,
Woven into their hair, banded

Together like a comet’s tail,
Like the spawn of the golden eels
Which are reeled in by fishermen

With the sun tattooed into
Their ganseys. I too will be spry
And fry, live and die,

There is nothing starker.
For now, I arrive and I cry
Behind my steering wheel,

A harpoon through my hope,
Ego skewered by a dart
Outside an unlit supermarket.

Kingfisher Song

You were too eager to please,
I chided myself, so keen to
Write that the venerable pen
Leapt from your desk and in
To your head where it bled
Through the clenched fist
Of your thoughts, the other
Hand, where I could not write,
But fell asleep in fields
Unfurling fallow whites.

Bald world, as blanched
From colour and sounds as
When the midwife caught you
Like steelhead trout in
Nets of coastal fisher-folk
Who could not speak themselves,
Brine burnt their throats;
They held their plunder up
To the sun, trident-spiked,
Piscine mouths in pristine
Exhibitions of shock,
Joyous affinity as one
With the kingfisher god,
As later priests held up
Broken bread and the veins
Of the grace and the good.
I’ve observed how a ritual is
Repetition streaming through
Survival’s gills, waking up,
My pen still in my hand,
Without scolding myself,
Then wrote.